Top positive review
One of the most impressive reissues ever
24 December 2013
The first thing I have to comment on is the quality of this reissue. It is absolutely stunning on all accounts. The hardbound book-like packaging is beautiful and thorough. Yes, the envelopes that hold the discs are not the best but I haven't had much problem with them. The remastering is surprisingly great. I had read an interview with the reissue producer and mastering engineer Tom Parker, and was concerned when he made a comment about the sound being mastered with the iPod generation in mind, though he managed wonderfully to provide louder volume while retaining much of the dynamic range. He should be given a medal. Another fear was unrealized when it turns out the entire set was remastered from original studio master tapes with no shoddy vinyl transfers to be found. Add to that, all of the transfers are beautiful. I don't hear any tape degradation at all. Just full, rich sound. The book contains scans of record sleeves and labels, including international releases. And with a DVD of all of the music videos, as well as a few TV appearances, this set encompasses just about anything anyone could ask for in a deluxe edition.
Now to the music. Bananarama are generally known for their more dancefloor oriented music, but this debut album shows them being a wonderful addition to the colorful character of the New Wave genre. The songs are often catchy or downright infectious. All of the singles from the album ('Shy Boy', 'Cheers Then', 'Really Saying Something', Aie A Mwana', 'Na Na Hey Hey') are still enjoyable 30 years later, while 'Young At Heart' has to be one of the catchiest songs ever written, and is my favorite on the album. The B sides expand the enjoyment with the equally catchy 'Girl About Town' and 'Tell Tale Signs'. The cover of the Sex Pistols' 'No Feelings' is hilariously bouncy. The 12" mixes are often nice extensions or alternate versions, and wonderful to have. Not to mention that this edition goes above and beyond to include not only the U.S. 12" mixes, but the interesting and unexpected U.S. 7" exclusive remixes as well. The DVD shows all the naive charm of the early Bananarama videos. Props made out of paper and magic markers, as well as the early shot-on-videotape appeal of 'Really Saying Something' and 'Na Na Hey Hey' are far better than over-produced choreography numbers.
Bananarama would have a change in sound on their next album, introducing a more serious side. By their third album, they will have embraced their dancefloor appeal, though my interest would fade at that point. By the time they were full stock-aitken-watermen products, I was completely disinterested. But at least there is this one bit of a youthful gem that I'm sure I will enjoy for years to come. And if you have any of the previous editions of this album, discard those and buy this set. It truly is a breathtaking package, and at a phenomenal price.